William Shatner sorry for Ilfracombe prostitution joke

William Shatner
Image caption William Shatner made his comments while joking about the Olympic torch relay

Star Trek actor William Shatner has apologised to a Devon town for saying it was "laced with prostitution".

Shatner, 81, made the comments on an edition of the BBC show Have I Got News for You.

Former Mayor of Ilfracombe Paul Crabb invited Shatner to the seaside town to show him "there is no prostitution in Ilfracombe".

Shatner replied: "My apologies for having singled out Ilfracombe as a potential haven for prostitution."

'Deeply sexual'

He made his comments in May as panellists discussed the town as a venue in the Olympic torch relay.

When he mispronounced the town's name, guest panellist Charlie Brooker said he had made it sound "deeply sexual" and Shatner replied: "The place is laced with prostitution."

Builder Mr Crabb, 49, emailed Shatner's agents: "As Captain James T Kirk, Mr Shatner has been to places where no man has gone before, however, the episode of Have I Got News For You clearly shows he has never been to Ilfracombe.

"If he came, we could show him that there is no prostitution in Ilfracombe and that it is a lovely coastal town with spectacular scenery and a close community."

In an email signed "Bill", Shatner replied that prostitution "commonly means sex for something of value".

He added: "I would be hard pressed to believe that sex was not being had in Ilfracombe for something of value, perhaps a lengthy marriage, children or a valuable career.

"In any event, my apologies for having singled out Ilfracombe as a potential haven for prostitution. With you overseeing, I am sure that will not happen."

Mr Crabb said: "We are a fairly good natured bunch down here.

"I'm sure the vast majority of people took it as tongue in cheek humour, but there were some who were upset.

"Maybe he has gone some way to assuage their concerns."

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